Kentucky Should Stick to Bourbon!
Topics: Kentucky Speedway, Quaker State 400
Jeremy T. Sellers
July 11, 2011
First of all, I feel obligated to submit my resume as far as tracks I've attended races before I write this article. The reason? I'm about to be really unkind to what should have been a great event in NASCAR history. For a working class dude, my list is pretty robust if I do say so myself: Michigan, Dover, Daytona so many times I can't count, Phoenix, Texas, Darlington, Watkins Glen, Talladega twice, Charlotte, Bristol, Homestead, The Brickyard Twice, and now Kentucky. Whereas I haven't hit every track on the circuit, I think that's pretty respectable for a guy who hasn't hit the lottery...yet.
Now, I will say that the people at Kentucky Speedway were great! We met some really nice folks in the parking area (yes, we were lucky enough to get in the lot), who invited us to sit under their canopy, enjoy some great beer, food, and conversation. We took in the pleasure of watching several drunken guys play competitive corn hole...which until yesterday, didn't realize that it could be so blood thirsty! Also, I'm honored to have been part of NASCAR history as this was the first cup race at Kentucky. However, in all honesty, I have to say this is where the joy stopped for us.
Bruton Smith is a smart guy, no doubt. He owns about half of the tracks NASCAR races, and has spent a lot of his own money to finally get a cup event at Kentucky. I would normally credit him for knowing how to treat fans and how to prepare for their arrival as I've attended an equal number of his tracks compared to ISC. This time, he really messed up! Sure, Mr. Smith poured some dough into adding seats to the speedway because he knew it would draw a crowd. All inaugural events bring in a huge attendance as everyone wants to be part of history, me included. I was at the 50th running of the Daytona 500, there for the first running on the new asphalt, and at Kentucky for the circus that took place July 9th. However, with increased attendance, means increase in traffic, and the severe need for parking areas. The real kick in the balls here? 20,000 ticket holders were turned away because they were told there was simply no room to put them. Call me spoiled. I don't care! But Bruton needs to go to Daytona and study how they do things. We have never waited more than 20 minutes in race traffic either before OR after an event. They've been doing this a while and know how to engineer. Kentucky? Did they just assume that a sell-out crowd would just "find" some place to park? He or his people HAD to know there weren't enough accomadations to get everyone in. Traffic was backed up TWENTY miles, no exaggeration! Long story short on this, we were 143 laps in to the race and there were STILL people trying to get in to the speedway who were eventually told to go home. Can you say REFUND!?!?! If Bruton Smith has any brain cells left, he will not only offer a refund to these fans, but VIP passes to another event!
With that aside, who ever did the logistics for the speedway though they could get away with only one portajohn per parking section. Upon our arrival, we had to wait an hour to relieve our journey-filled bladders before someone must have made a phone call and truck loads of toilets magically appeared. The crowd literally cheered! How about waiting 50 green flag laps for a cold cheeseburger, cold fries, warm bottle of water and Powerade? Seriously, someone didn't do their homework! Almost-filled port potties, and cold food, awesome!
That leaves me with the racing. The quality sucked, even the drivers apologized. There was no passing, no action, and NASCAR was inventing debris cautions when there wasn't anything on the track. Did I mention people left early in DROVES? NEVER have I seen the mass exodus before the end of a race as we did at Kentucky. That is the fan's way of sending a message...CLEAN IT UP, or WE WON'T BE BACK!